Clogging problems happen in every household at one point and for homeowners who do not know how to fix the problem, the plumber is the person to call. However, by learning some skills and having the right tools, simple plumbing problems can be a DIY project. Here, we will discuss about how to unclog a kitchen sink with a useful tool every homeowner should have. This is the plumber’s tool or drain auger.
Snakes are the tools of choice in most clogging problems when plungers do not work. These can be used for toilets, bathtub drains and kitchen sinks. However, a snake cannot be used from above the sink. This is because a sink is designed to keep objects from falling into it and the cable attached to the snake will be difficult to get through even if it fits the drain trap. A snake is a flexible cable or metal wire that is pushed into the drain, twisted and rotated to break apart the object that obstructs the drain and cause the clogging.
- Plumbing Snake
- Adjustable Pliers or Pipe Wrench
- Rag or old Cloth
- Rubber Gloves
The first step is to turn off the shut valve located under the sink. This is the one similar to the valve for your sprinkler which you need to turn clockwise to tighten it and cut the water supply. Next, get the bucket and put it under the sink, the part where the bend on the pipe is to catch the water that is left from the pipe. This is called the P-trap.
Get the pliers and disconnect the P-trap which is held together by nuts and washers. Check the nut material whether it is made from metal or plastic. If it is the latter, you might be able to loosen it with your hand and do not have to use the pliers this time. Conversely, if it is chrome-plated, you can use the pipe wrench to loosen it. Be ready for the remaining water from the pipe and gunk to fall. This is why you need to wear rubber gloves and have a bucket under the sink.
Once you have disconnected the trap and can see the inside of the pipe, check if there is a solid object that caused the blockage and remove it. This might have solved the problem. However, if it is clear, the problem is not as simple as it seems and you need to go farther down using the snake.
Get the snake and pull at least 12 to 15 inches of the cable and hold the end so you can insert it and push it down the drain.
You might need the help of someone to listen as you crank and rotate the handle to check if the cable is going up the vent. You also need to pull and reinsert the cable as it goes up so it can go down to the T-fitting.
As long as there is no resistance felt, pull the cable and let it slide through the pipe up until the end reaches the blockage and resistance is felt. Tighten the screw at the front of the snake. Push the cable inward as you crank the handle in one direction, clockwise. This will break the clog apart.
When the cable has reached its end, loosen the set screw and pull another 15 inches of the cable so you can reset and continue to crank the handle. Continue this step until the clog is shredded or broken apart. You will know this if there is no resistance felt anymore.
Reminder: If the blockage is too solid or hard, you might want to twist the cable and pull and push it to dislodge the obstruction. Do this by pushing the cable at least three more feet and then pull it at least two feet. Next, feed the cable back at least four feet then pull it at least by two.
Next, retrieve the cable using the opposite direction as when you push it. If you make the mistake of rotating the handle, you will only re-clog the pipe. Ensure that you that the cable is set on the spool as you retrieve it so no dirt or stain will be scattered on the sink floor or walls.
Set aside the snake and proceed to replace the P-trap. If your home has been in existence for years, this might be the time to find out if the pipe has already corroded and needs to be replaced. In case you have to replace it, you might want to use a plastic trap this time. This is inexpensive and easy to install. On the other hand, if it is exposed, you might opt for a chrome-plated material. Also, see to it that you screw the nut and washer well to ensure there will be no leakage when you turn the water back on.
Get some hot water and pour it into the sink. This will remove whatever gunk and grease are still stuck inside the pipe. This should solve your clogging problem. Turn on the shut valve and the faucet to let water flow to check if the sink is clear from the clog.
If you need to snake the cleanout port which is located in the exterior, this is also easy to do. This is the pipe that goes through the wall of the house and covered by a cap. Remove the cap using a wrench. Once it is exposed, you can now have direct access to the drain or sewer line using the snake. Push and pull the snake farther down to clear the clog. Next, run some water to see if water will flow freely and gunk and clogging is removed. Replace the cap and test if the water will not back up anymore. Do so by turning the faucet on.